Hope flies

A moment in time.

This post was originally written on September 22, 2010 from Macedonia.

I am back in a land I love.      

Sometimes we walk to our dreams, sometimes we run. I flew! No matter how we travel to find them – inside ourselves or in the world,  I do believe the road we choose rises to meet us.      

I am in Macedonia, land of Phillip of Macedonia the II, the father of Alexander the Great.  The land that experienced 500 years of Ottoman-Turk domination that ended oh, so recently in the early 1900’s; a land where leisure is not a dirty world, were men and women hug openly and often, where slow food is what everyone eats, slowly. Where a mountain is seen at every turn, where wine flows as easily as opinions, where strolling is an art form, hiking is the order of the day, and where living rooms are small and an appreciation of being outdoors is huge.      

The wonderful and very proud people of this beautiful little country opened their arms to me when I served here as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer from 2006-2009. They then stretched their arms across a continent and an ocean to embrace my desire to return for work and play by opening their hearts and their homes to me as easily as we Americans open our car doors.      

I’m back!      

Fort Myers, Florida to Atlanta, to Rome to Thessaloniki the second largest city in Greece with a very small and easily manageable airport.  The city is only two and a half hours from Bitola, the second largest city in Macedonia.  These very different towns each played important cultural and political roles in ancient world history. The Via Egnatia, the Roman road of commerce, passed through both towns accelerating their growth and their value to the region.      

Now, political quarrels over national names keep them separated by more than miles, but doesn’t stop the adventurous traveler from enjoying both.  Their borders are open and easily passed.      

We crossed those borders into Macedonia on Friday, September 9.  I am living here for two months, five other American wanderlusts are joining me for three to four weeks.      

We are exploring Macedonia and ourselves. You see, I believe that all successful  journeys – big or small, lead us not only to new places, but to new observations and awareness of living, life and ourselves.      

Within hours of my arrival, an American-Macedonian friend reminded me to slow-down. So, I did.       

I breathe slowly and deeply. Taking it all in, one drop at a time. Ecstatic at the life changes that have brought me to this moment and to being able to share it with my Macedonian friends, my fellow travelers, family and friends back home and you the reader. At this moment my connection is closest to you the reader, the curious, interested person taking time from your day to explore the world of another. Thank you for being here.   

Here are a few of the sights, food and people we are enjoying.    

        
To market, to market, the markets are brimming with peppers and people. 
     
Table-long salata, a closer look at their beautiful bounty.     
 
 
Stuffed peppers from heaven.
 
Light bean salad – fresh picked!
 
Macedonian-style moussaka, amazingly simple and delicious.
 
Grape leave “sarmi” rice and meat rolled delights!
 
“Chorba” – light, delicate fish soup from the city of Struga.
 
 
Tradition, Tradition
Beautiful Vevchani Baba
 
Vevchani view
 
A lacy view
 
Church by springs in Vevchani
 
St. Nikola, Vevchani
 
Lacy screen door with blessing and luck above it. 
Until we meet again . . . Sreken pat.  Happy travels.   
 
 
From 2006-2009, Patrice Koerper lived in Macedonia as one of only 425 volunteers over the age of 50 serving worldwide in the United States Peace CorpsIn 2010 Patrice Koerper returned to Macedonia with American guests for a special cultural tourism program she developed, “Experience Macedonia: Enjoy Europe as it used to be”. 

Patrice is returning to Macedonia again in 2011 for six weeks – September through October. She is offering her unique 2 to 4 weeks cultural tours to a small group of friendly, flexible, adventurous travelers. In 2012 Patrice is planning life coaching retreats in Macedonia and Greece.

For more information on these exciting travel and life-changing opportunities, please email her at patricekoerper@gmail.com or call her at 813-719-0679.

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